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Esthema - IIII CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.46 | 7 ratings

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4 stars The prime mover of the highly acclaimed USA prog folk formation Esthema (which means emotion in Greek) is Andy Milas, he got the band together in 2006. One year later they released their first CD, Apart From The Rest, followed by Hereness And Nowness Of Things (2009), Long Goodbye (2014) and recently IIII (2018). Here is a small cascade of praise from the music press about Esthema their eclectic folk sound: 'this first album is nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European - and Middle Eastern traditional music', 'these two recordings have already marked them as maestros of their instruments and as masters of world fusion like no one has ever done before', 'Listening to their work is like hearing and feeling the heartbeat of the planet.', 'A world-class collaboration of the highest order' and 'Once again, Esthema dazzles.' 'beautifully produced third album Long Goodbye is a relentlessly classy and high-minded affair but with a knowing rock vibe.', 'this accomplished sextet, who hail from Boston richly deserve to be heard' and 'Esthema's Long Goodbye is a rich progressive rock record that harnesses classic and modern sounds.' Wow, that sounds very welcoming, to say the least!

For me this is one of the very few progrock reviews about a band without keyboards. But on the other hand I am a huge fan of flamenco, Andean - and Rumanian folk and Dutch progrock formation Flairck. So when I stumbled upon Esthema on the Forum and read about their music I got very interested, contacted the band and received their new CD entitled IIII, via the socalled Dropbox. The album contains 4 long suites and 3 very short interludes (from atmospheric sonic landscapes to fragile acoustic guitar play). These four very long pieces range from 10 to 13 minutes, did Esthema succeed to keep my attention? Yes!

Esthema their sound is build upon wonderful work on violin and oud (the Middle East lute), blended with acoustic guitars, bass and percussion. In the dreamy parts Dutch prog folk band Flairck comes to my mind (tender acoustic guitars and melancholical violin), very pleasant, often warm music. In the more virtuosic guitar parts I hear echoes from Al DiMeola his world music and the acoustic John McLaughlin, but less self-indulgent. An extra dimension is the omnipresent sound of the distinctive oud, giving a sultry Middle East flavour to the music.

My highlights.

From dreamy to more dynamic with outstanding interplay between the violin, guitars and percussion. Halfway an excellaration with an exciting, strongly build-up electric guitar solo (featuring elements from Django Reinhardt and John Mc Laughlin), from senstitive to raw and fiery in Be.

Awesome work on the oud, evoking the Morish inspired world of the Spanish flamenco (like the Zambra Mora) in the most Middle East sounding composition Part Of Me, Part Of You.

From dreamy like Flairck to an accellaration with propulsive percussion and again awesome interplay between an intense oud and swirling violin. The music culminates in a bombastic final part with dynamic interplay between all the instruments in Successive Waves.

And the final track Winter's Solace delivering a lush instrumentation (guitars, violin, bouzouki and assorted percussion) and a slow rhythm with a gypsy sounding violin that sings like a nightingale, so beautiful!

If you like world music, folk music or ethnic music, or you are interested in exotic instruments (like the oud and bouzouki) Esthema is an excellent band to discover (from Boston, the city from my favourite baseball team Boston Red Sox, winner of the 2018 World Series): let you carry away with this often compelling musical encounter of Western - and Eastern Europe, performed by excellent musicians, highly recommended!

TenYearsAfter | 4/5 |


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